Romelu Lukaku has called on Manchester United to show more spirit than they did against Barcelona on Wednesday as he conceded that eliminating the Uefa Champions League favourites will be even harder than beating Paris Saint-Germain.
Luke Shaw's own goal gave the Spanish champions a 1-0 lead to take back to the Nou Camp but United became the first team in Champions League history to overturn a 2-0 deficit at home when they won 3-1 in France in the last round.
Lukaku scored United’s first two goals then before Marcus Rashford added an injury-time penalty and the Belgian said the key to victory against a Barcelona team who have not lost a home Champions League game for six years will be: “Taking our chances and not conceding a goal, and play with more heart.
"Barcelona is a different team, every game is a different game, we just have to improve and do better than we did in Paris. We have to believe and have the desire and more quality than [on Wednesday], be better on the ball and then you never know what can happen in football. On the day you can score from one chance and that’s what they did [at Old Trafford].”
Paul Pogba was in bullish mood as he declared that United’s killers are capable of mounting a famous comeback to overcome the Spanish league leaders.
“We saw a team we can beat,” the Frenchman said. “If you don’t believe that then you just let them go through. We believe we can beat them. They are Barcelona but we are Manchester United and we play in the Champions League like they do and we can go through.
“We have to avoid giving them chances and be killers in front of goal. We believe chances will come over there.”
Pogba believes that United’s comeback in the round of 16 will be a psychological factor for Barcelona. He explained: “Probably Paris will be in their minds for sure because they saw what we can do against PSG.”
United failed to register a shot on target at Old Trafford, which was the first time since 2005 that they did not work an opposing goalkeeper in the Champions League, but Pogba felt he saw proof Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side can trouble Barcelona.
“You are playing against one of the best teams in the world but we gave them some problems,” he said. “We know that we can hurt them.”
Defender Victor Lindelof was frustrated with the first-leg scoreline but insisted United have a capacity for greatness.
“I am just angry we didn’t get a better result,” the Swede said. “We have belief in our team that we can do great things and we have shown that before.”
United will be without the suspended Shaw in the Nou Camp on Tuesday, but they could have a former Barcelona player back.
Alexis Sanchez has resumed training and is in contention to feature against West Ham United on Saturday.
While the Chilean has only scored twice in an injury-hit season and has been a failure at Old Trafford since his move from Arsenal, Lukaku claimed the Chilean can again become one of the division’s outstanding players and insisted Sanchez is upbeat as he looks to turn around his United career.
He said: “He is a very positive person and he has a lot of respect in the club and for me the most important thing is that he is the happiest he can be and that us as players must give him more confidence because with the qualities that he has he can be one of the best players in the league.”